Solar Canoe As Protest

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Sunkirum, one of the solar-powered canoes, sails on the Pastaza river. Photograph: Pablo Albarenga

Thanks to the Guardian, and specifically to Francesc Badia i Dalmases in Kapawi, Ecuador, for this story:

Here comes the sun canoe, as Amazonians take on Big Oil

Ecuadorian indigenous groups hope innovation will reduce amount of oil taken from forest only to be brought back as pollution

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Nantu and his colleagues check the state of a canoe’s solar panels. Photograph: Pablo Albarenga

A canoe slides noiselessly upstream through a landscape of luminous bright clouds reflected in the water. A team of young indigenous people are onboard.

Such vessels are an essential and ubiquitous part of life in the Ecuadorian Amazon, but this one boasts a hugely symbolic difference from its predecessors. It is powered by the sun.

The nine members of the Achuar indigenous group on board are returning home after learning about solar power and installation. It is a technological development they hope to use in their battle with a more traditional power source that threatens their very existence. Oil.

“They have sold us out, they have sold our resources,” says Nantu, 31, referring to the authorities in Quito. “And they are expanding the oil wells. They are stealing from us without us noticing. That’s why we are now standing up, to defend what’s ours, our territories, our way of life.”

Ecuador’s oil industry has wrought tremendous disruption and destruction on the peoples of the Amazon rainforest. It is not just the pollution, heavy machinery and deforestation. It is roads as well.

A highway that starts in the town of Puyo has already penetrated dozens of kilometres into the territory of the neighbouring Shuar indigenous group, and it is about to enter Achuar territory. “The road is a poison,” says José, Nantu’s companion. “The road doesn’t respect us. It’s been imposed on us from the city. It’s a very dangerous territory for us.”…

Read the whole article here.

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